Liberty County near Savannah, long a hotbed for international companies, has landed another prize.
Firth Rixson Ltd., a British company that makes metal components for the aerospace industry, this week announced that it is building a 200,000 square-foot factory in Liberty County.
The new factory will employ 200 people, most hired locally, according to a news release by Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue‘s office.
Ron Tolley, CEO of the Liberty County Development Authority, said Firth Rixson was looking for a location close to a major port, with a trainable work force and soil suitable for pilings for a building to support heavy metal presses.
Liberty County learned about the Firth Rixson project from the Georgia Department of Economic Development on June 16, Mr. Tolley told GlobalAtlanta. Company officials paid their first visit to Liberty County on July 9, he said.
The new factory will be in the Tradeport East Business Center, which is about 30 minutes by truck from the Port of Savannah, said Mr. Tolley.
Although industrial prospects frequently ask counties for financial assistance in building new factories, particularly in a down economy, that is not the case with Firth Rixson, said Mr. Tolley. “They bought their land, they are paying for their own building,” he said.
In competing with other counties in South Carolina and Georgia for the Firth Rixson project, Liberty County benefited from having a growing list of international companies.
One of the oldest counties in Georgia, Liberty has a population of about 60,000 and is home to the U.S. Army’s Fort Stewart, where the Third Infantry Division is based. While Fort Stewart is a huge economic force in Liberty, the impact has been diminished by frequent troop deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.
International companies have been a stable and expanding component in Liberty.
Currently, 70 percent of the manufacturing and distribution jobs in Liberty County are provided by companies headquartered abroad, Mr. Tolley said. “Come Grow Globally” is the development authority’s motto.
SNF Inc. a French company that makes chemicals for wastewater treatment, built a plant in Liberty County in 1986 which initially employed 15 people. It now has a payroll of 1,300 and won the Governor’s International Award last year for international trade.
Hugo Boss, a German-owned clothing company, opened a distribution center in Liberty County in 2001 that now employs 183 people.
International Greetings PLC, a British company, moved its U.S. headquarters to Liberty County in 1996. Last month, it announced a licensing deal with celebrity cook Paula Deen for a line of stationery, recipe cards, boxes and food containers.
“It does give companies some comfort level not only that we have international companies here but we’ve had them for decades,” said Mr. Tolley.